Thinking on military affairs and going nuts part-time

I have observed that many of those who became more or less prolific writers on military affairs (other than hardware topics) and dared to oppose the mainstream or to call for more than merely cosmetic reforms have sooner or later exhibited 'weird' behaviour.

Lind, for example, (a "3GW" guy) is known to sometimes write as if he was living in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Someone else (whom I don't want to mention, but you might recognize him by his initials "C.M.") has gone all-out pro-Trump, 9/11 truther et cetera. Another one wrote weird things about cobalt bombs. Poole got obsessed about ninjas. I prefer to not mention those who seemingly went all-out crazy first and only then began writing about military art or reform. In Germany, Uhle-Wettler wrote great books in the 60's and early 80's, but being a 150% anti-communist since the 1950's, he turned out to not keep a healthy distance to neonazi publications after his retirement. Middelhoff was a fantastic author in the 50's, but produced a scandal in the late 60's when he was essentially the only general ever fired in the Federal Republic of Germany for (kind of) opposing his political master, the later Chancellor Schröder in an unethical way. There are many more examples (though also many about whom I don't know anything crazy). By my estimate about half of those who oppose the mainstream thinking with passionate proposition of reforms exhibit at least a little bit crazy sooner or later.

There may be some shared psychological trait that is both promoting outside the box thinking AND crazy thinking. Maybe it's a lacking desire to conform.

This suggests that whenever you read about non-mainstream military theory or about serious (non-think tank style) military reform proposals, you better watch out for crazy, for it's a coin toss whether there's crazy attached or not.
And yes, I cannot self-diagnose. Feel free to watch out for crazy on this blog as well.



  1. One could hypothesize that when dealing with serious questions in a decidedly un-serious environment, where perceptiveness might be rewarded with money and fame but without progress, one might evolve contempt for said surroundings.

    See: Seymour Hersh, Pierre Omidyar, Jimmy Goldsmith

  2. It appears one should only listen to the crazy from the above list, they are visionaries :D

    There is a problem in the western society, and Germany in particular, of not being able to hold not politically correct positions without being labeled as a...

    I don't think the SSSR in 1941 was preparing for an attack on Germany, but I can understand that there are good reasons to think so. (For 1942 or 1943 I wouldn't bet it wouldn't happen) Claiming everyone who think so is a nazi is counterproductive.

  3. "I don't think the SSSR in 1941 was preparing for an attack on Germany, but I can understand that there are good reasons to think so. (For 1942 or 1943 I wouldn't bet it wouldn't happen) Claiming everyone who think so is a nazi is counterproductive."

    With the ugly discussion during the publication of volume 4 of "Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg" around 30 years ago as background, I would counter that the issue was slightly different:

    There is no historical evidence, that the German leadership actually knew that the UDSSR wanted to attack in 1941.

    Therefore, to sell the German attack as preemption/selfdefense is problematic as this required knowledge about Soviet plans in 1941 which did not exist.

    There are IMHO criteria for good historiography. My 2 cents.


    1. He didn't really claim that they "knew" anything about invasion plans or sell anything.

      My take is that the Soviets were known to have built up the military since the mid-1930's much more than for peaceful intents, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and events of 1939/1940 showed that Stalin was at the very least intent on restoring the old Tsarist Empire's borders. His actions on behalf of foreign 'communists' in Spain and China revealed that he was thinking beyond mere Nationalism.

      It was a reasonable assumption for the German leadership to expect him to strike first (more likely than not) if and when Germany was weakened, such as if there had been a Western Front replay of WW1 for a few years. The Red Army was furthermore garrisoned very far forward in 1940/41.

      The invasion of 1941 was BS, of course. Strategically it would have made more sense to wage a possible air/sea war in the Atlantic and to do the expansion of the fast troops (tank, motorised infantry divisions) and fighter force thoroughly.

  4. Accoring to Tooze, Germany started the Eastern campaign to get the resources it needed to wage an air sea war versus the USA and Britain. USA wasn't at war then, but it was providing material assitance that the third Reich couldn't match without the East.

    1941 the Red Army was in the biggest expansion, and completly unprepaired when the Germans attacked. I conclude that they didn't intend to attack 1941, but creating 30 tank corps would be quite usefull for that mission beyond 1941.

    But that isn't the main point, resonable people can disagree on that issue while not being nazi supporters.

  5. With regards to the original topic, there is a definite correlation between intelligence and psychological-emotional problems. The more that I progress academically and professionally the more intelligent people I meet (unfortunately, quite a few dunces also: occupying administrative positions generally, the sort of personality S.O. has written about here before. Bureaucratically inclined, all that.) and the more and more I notice that these people suffer from depression, other behavioural issues, obsessive phases with different areas where they think they can "take this element of the fundamentally Nazi model and apply it, it'll be fine" (i.e. warrior ethos, Spartan-fetishism), so on. With military theory, to come up with good and especially to come up with innovative ideas requires intellect that is higher than average, and so I would expect to see a higher than average correlation in this field as well, with the number of people who've got emotional problems or other psychological issues.

    With regards to the historiographical-historical discussion RE Soviet intentions in 1940-41 and the idea of Nazi "self defence," some interesting thoughts. The most important thing to realize here is that we are all separated by a common language, to twist the common quip. We're all speaking English but are from many different cultural and professional backgrounds; the words we're using don't have the same meaning to all of us. This is important because historiographically speaking, the American military historical establishment has a decidedly neo-nazi bent because so much of their work has been based on fetishisation of the Wehrmacht (Heer, KM, LW) and Waffen-SS with an extraordinarily sympathetic view that ignores the fundamental attachment between politics and military action. That this should happen is nothing short of astounding given the fetishisation of Clausewitz in the same community! This "neo-nazism" comes from institutional anti-communism, familiarity with Germanic culture and thought with simultaneously Othering the Slavic equivalent, political (and simply, funding support) for research efforts in German but not Russian [where available] archives, a greater language barrier with Russian than German, so on. For more on this, I recommend Smelser and Davies: "The Myth of the Eastern Front."

  6. Historically, I do not understand why the discussion above does not include mention of key facts such as the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and the 1939 partition of Poland and Eastern Europe. This is why the RKKA was forward deployed. The history of RKKA operational manouevre thought accounts for why their mechanised forces were being reorganized (for the umpteenth time); the 1937 Terror had just killed everybody who had been working on PU36 and associated concepts such as Deep Battle. Subsequently, PU38, 39, 40, and 41 all entailed force reorganisations and re-equipping to conform to new precepts of how battle was to be fought. Notions like "look at how much of the RKKA is outside the Russian homeland's traditional boundaries" ignore that it wasn't about where Russia was, it was about where the Soviet frontier was, and the role of the RKKA to protect the Soviet - not Russian - frontier.

    And generally: We have a really bad habit in [at least] North America of binary thought and applying totalitarian titles to anybody who disagrees with us in the slightest. Calling historians Nazis or Stalinists or apologists for either totalitarian system is nothing new and is like the retarded yapping of small dogs bred to be carried in purses: safely ignored. So long as you don't go Full Retard like Irving with this "show me how Hitler knew about the Final Solution" contention, it's safe to say that person is probably not a Nazi, probably just from a culture that is decidedly more conservative than yours. Neoliberal and neoconservative trends in American culture, and the propagation of American culture through globalisation, have certainly exacerbated this problem. I see this to be true particularly in my homeland of Canada. As we become more American, the quality of discourse drops, and suddenly everybody's a Nazi.